Questions tagged [shakespeare]

Questions relating to William Shakespeare, an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

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44 views

Shakespeare’s Subjunctive

Shakespeare’s Macbeth famously says, “If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly,” which I rearranged, according to my understanding, as, “‘Twere well it were done quickly, ...
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49 views

'MURDER“ or ”MURTHER" ? — Question on when distinct (archaic) spellings for words were used and when not

Salutations, I am currently writing a play that is being regulated to the very distinct notions of authentically replicating the English language and its archaic spellings during its usage in London, ...
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2answers
217 views

What's the etymology of 'blank verse'?

Shakespeare uses a lot of blank verse. I get it that there's no proper rhyme scheme, but there is meter. Why is it called "blank"?
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1answer
78 views

Why does Shakespeare let two or more actors finish a pentameter?

To complete the number of syllables in a pentameter Shakespeare (and other contemporaries) let multiple actors say a verse, like shown in Macbeth Were two actors complete a pentameter: DUNCAN: ...
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1answer
55 views

Did Shakespeare use dactyls or dactilic meter?

While reciting "To be or not to be" recently, I discovered a rhythmic pattern that I hadn't really noticed before. At least to me, there seems to be quite a few dactyls, especially in the second half ...
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3answers
117 views

What does 'it' refer to in “come you more nearer than your particular demands will touch it”?

Apologies for the long title; I was led to understand it is better to be as specific as possible in titles, even if it makes them a little long. I'll edit it if people agree otherwise. In Shakespeare'...
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46 views

Why “him” in “For neuer resting time leads Summer on / To hidious winter and confounds him there, …” instead of it or her?

There is a passage in William's V sonnet that confounds me : For neuer resting time leads Summer on, To hidious winter and confounds him there, Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau's quite gon. ...
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4answers
2k views

…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring ...
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Why there is no article before “heire”? [duplicate]

The following passage is from All's Well That Ends Well: Shee is young, wise, faire, In these, to Nature shee's immediate heire: And these breed honour: According to the research I did on Cambridge ...
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2answers
3k views

Why, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, does “square” mean “quarrel”?

When referring to dictionaries, there seems to be no such meaning as "quarrel" under the word "square", only "in agreement". But in II 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream, "square" in the following text ...
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1answer
75 views

Help understanding a sentence from “An Introduction to Mathematics”, but it's about Shakespeare!

I'm reading Alfred North Whitehead's "An Introduction to Mathematics". I need help understanding a sentence at the beginning of the book: The study of mathematics is apt to commence in ...
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3answers
575 views

An expression, idiom, or phrase meaning “I lied” or “they are lying” or “to tell a lie”, etc? [closed]

Looking for an expression, idiom, or phrase that would indicate a lie is being told, or was told, etc. I will not be using this phrase as part of a sentence, so I can't give an example. I just ...
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1answer
927 views

What does this Much Ado quote mean, "I can see a church by day light'?

I was reading through Act 2 Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing and I found this rather difficult to interpret because I am stuck between two meanings. LEONATO: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly....
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2answers
972 views

What does “thrice-blessed” mean in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” Act 1 Scene 1?

There was a line in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act 1 Scene 1 that says: "... Thrice-blessèd they that master so their blood To undergo such maiden pilgrimage." (Theseus) So, could anyone ...
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1answer
370 views

How should I understand these lines from As You Like It?

I am currently on my second reading of As You Like It. I am having a really hard time comprehending lines 22-25 in Act 1, scene 2. Here are those lines as they appear in the version I am reading (The ...
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Shakespeare's “say sooth” vs. “tell truth”

The noun sooth, pronounced /suːθ/, is now archaic and means ‘fact’,‘reality’ and ‘truth’. Its legacy persists in the words soothe /suːð/, and soothsayer meaning someone who sees the truth, a synonym ...
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What is the meaning of, “Women thinking themselves as double-cherry”?

My question is about a sentence that I read in one of criticism of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, it reads as follows: The relationship between Helena and Hermia is characterised by ...
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562 views

Shakespeare's omission of 'as' before 'single' in 'When sorrows come, they come not single spies…'

When Shakespeare wrote: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions", why didn't he put an "as" before "single spies"?
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824 views

Shakespeare's Macbeth “Conduct me to (mine) host” Mine host vs My Host

The first time I heard "mine host" in Shakespeare's Macbeth, I went to Wiktionary to see if it once was used instead of "my," however, I ended up with that it should not be followed by a noun but ...
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3answers
491 views

In Love's Labour's Lost, what does “spite of cormorant devouring time” mean?

In the opening statement of Love's Labour's Lost (Act 1 Scene 1), Ferdinand speaks of why he wants to make the oath to study and forgo base pleasures. He says Let fame, that all hunt after in their ...
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3answers
276 views

Early Modern English: Shakespearean Insult [duplicate]

I think many are familiar with the famous line from Shakespeare: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. What I seek to do is keep the analogy but change ...
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1answer
109 views

thou/you and art/are In Shakespeare's sonnets

Is there a consistent application of any distinction between the forms of the words thou and you, and art and are in Shakespeare's sonnets? Is he simply following a convention regarding formality in ...
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2answers
370 views

What is the origin of “sleep till I wake him”?

In King Lear, the phrase "If our father would sleep till I waked him" is used in Edmund's fake letter to Gloucester. Apparently it means "if our father were dead"[1][2]. What is the origin of the ...
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What sounds better My lovely Kellisa or the lovely kellisa [closed]

Am wrting a poem for a beautiful girl in my advanced English class and the last thing I want is for her to think I don't care about her (its freshman advanced English)
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Shakespeare Use of present tense narrating a past action

in Macbeth, Acte III -scene 6, In this portion of the scene: «  Lennox- Sent he to Macduff? Lord - He did, and with an absolute 'Sir, not I,' The cloudy messenger turns me his back, ...
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Shakespearean relative clause: “I have a brother is condemned to die”

In Measure for Measure 2.2.785, Shakespeare wrote the following sentence: I have a brother is condemned to die. I am wondering why he omitted the relative pronoun and left the helping verb. Isn't ...
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305 views

Using imaginary word “Hamletian” in AP Engish Literature annotated bibliography [closed]

I was considering creating the word "Hamletian," meaning "of Hamlet," for use in an annotated bibliography, because I like the sound of "Hamletian criticism" much more than "criticism of Hamlet." It ...
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93 views

How to explain the phrase of “Shakespeare’s trifling does indeed tread upon the very borders of vacancy”

All we then want is to proclaim a truce with reason, and to be pleased with as little expense of thought or pretension to wisdom as possible. This licensed fooling is carried to its very utmost ...
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2answers
1k views

Word order: “dear my lord” in Shakespeare

I'm revisiting my old question [#167151]. The original question was about the word order: “dear my love” or “my dear love”. I hold a position that we say “my dear love”. But when I was saying a ...
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1answer
230 views

Was the “i” long or short in Shakespeare's plays?

In Queen Gertrude's short opening monologue the final two lines seem to have rhymed in Shakespeare's day: Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark....
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1answer
286 views

Did 'lawyer' have a broader meaning in Shakespeare's time?

In Act 4, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2, Dick the butcher, one of Jack Cade's rebels, shouts: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. The rebels bring in the clerk of ...
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3k views

What is the meaning of this sentence in modern English?

It is a quotation of Hamlet in Act 5, Scene 2. If it be now, ’tis not to come. What will be the structure of this sentence in simple modern English? I am going to explain why it seems odd to me. ...
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1answer
185 views

“Opus magnum” of the English Language [closed]

While in Spanish we are taught that Cervantes’ Don Quixote is the defining work of literature of the Spanish language (not as a matter of opinion, but rather as a matter of Canon), I have heard ...
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2answers
449 views

Shakespearean way of speaking

Was the language used in Shakespeare's plays commonly used among people at that time in normal speech? I know that iambic pentameter was commonly used in formal, pre-prepared speeches at the time, but ...
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1answer
3k views

Detailed Explanation of Sonnet 55 [closed]

Could anyone give me a line by line interpretation of Sonnet 55? I am having a hard time understanding it.
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1answer
2k views

In “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, does “ay” mean “yes” or “always”?

And since that time it is eleven years, For then she could stand alone. Nay, by the rood, She could have run and waddled all about, For even the day before, she broke her brow. And then my ...
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1answer
282 views

Was Shakespeare's Hamlet truly fat?

In the final scene Hamlet's mother, watching the duel and worried about her son's fortunes, observes that He's fat and scant of breath. Editions that bother to explain this or that archaic turn of ...
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4answers
4k views

Does the modern definition of “awful” come from its homonym to “offal”?

The following lines are found in Act I, Scene III of Julius Caesar: What trash is Rome, What rubbish and what offal, when it serves For the base matter to illuminate So vile a thing as Caesar!...
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4answers
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Does “goodly” in this sentence in Hamlet mean “considerable” or "pleasing?

In Hamlet there is the following conversation: GUILDENSTERN: Prison, my lord! HAMLET: Denmark's a prison. ROSENCRANTZ: Then is the world one. HAMLET: A goodly one; in which there are ...
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6answers
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“Fool” meaning “baby”

The word is "fool." The OED has been no help on this, but my copy of Hamlet makes reference to its having the meaning "baby" so when Polonius says "You'll tender me a fool" he is cautioning Ophelia ...
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Is Shakespeare's Double Negative Grammatically Wrong?

In Act I Scene I of The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare's character Salarino uses a double negative in the phrase Not in love neither?, is this grammatically wrong or was this acceptable at the time? [...
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3answers
378 views

Was Shakespeare's use of “retrograde” an astronomical metaphor?

In Hamlet (I.2) Claudius remarks to Hamlet that his plan to return to university at Wittenberg is ... most retrograde to our desire ... To a modern ear, this is striking and poetic, but I wonder: ...
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9answers
619 views

Expression for “Puts the world into her person and so gives me out.”

In Much Ado About Nothing, there is at one point the following sentence (Act 2, Scene 1, spoken by Benedick): I am not so reputed; it is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice that puts ...
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94 views

Is “to say” in Hamlet's “and by a sleep to say we end” an infinitive or an adverb?

I was trying to identify the word classes of Hamlet's famous monologue "To be or not to be", and I'm really having trouble deciding what word class "to say" in "and by sleep to say we end the ...
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1answer
966 views

What does this sentence from Shakespeare mean? [closed]

Can someone kindly help me translate the following sentence from Shakespeare's language to Modern English through a context: "Prithee, would'st thou stay and sup with me in yonder chamber?"
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What word did Middle English have in place of “light" as in: “light blue”, “light green” etc.?

In English, we often use the adjective light before another colour to express a whiter shade of hue. For example, light blue, light green, light brown, etc. The term pale is used in a similar way, e....
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1answer
106 views

How can I quote a play from the middle of a line?

Here is the play stanza: Good night to everyone. [To Brabantio] And, noble signior, If virtue no delighted beauty lack, Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. I do not ...
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2answers
2k views

Go out into the world - The Tempest?

A few years ago, we studied the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony with our English teacher. The following words (spoken by Sir Ian McKellen if I remember well) are still echoing in my mind: ...
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233 views

how to understand the following Shakespeare's dialogue?

I was recently studying a play of Shakespeare called: Merry Wives of Windsor and the context is that there are two persons talking one is William and the other is Evans, the second one is the father ...
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357 views

Variety of English used by the Romantic poets| -eth/-s for the third person singular in particular

I have recently been reading poetry by John Keats and Rabindranath Tagore. Both these poets, being active in the 19th century, by which time I think English was quite as it is today, wrote still in ...